Jack Hertz & Mystified, Inuksuk

hertz_inukMore often than not, when a release says it’s about “tribal” music, we’re talking about the tribes of the American southwest, and filling the space with drumming echoing off red cliff walls and out into the desert night. On Inuksuk, Jack Hertz and Mystified grab us and head north—way north, to the indigenous peoples of the arctic, “who have coexisted exclusively with nature for thousands of years.” Having said that, we’re still in drones-and-drums territory and we’re still being given that guided tour down into our primal selves, the stuff that makes me love tribal-oriented work in the first place. Overall, the work here is as dark an an arctic winter. Throaty drones like didgeridoo (having clearly lost their way…) circle through, snarling against the organic clatter of percussion. “Tcakabesh” and “Forever Night” take us deeply into these realms, in which we clearly do not belong. (And in which, yes, I find myself spiritually right at home.) The course goes steadily downward into the duo of “Adlivun” and “Nepcetaq.” In this stretch, Hertz and Mystified go the sparse, minimal route, and place us firmly in a state of dark meditation. “Adlivun” describes our descent into the Inuit frozen underworld, one you reach by going down, down into the black ocean depths, via ominously moaning bass drone and cold-wind washes. It flows out to “Nepcetaq,” a bare piece built in breathy drones and light taps of percussion.Tonally, things brighten beyond that, ending up with thick walls of sharp tone in “Static Horizon.” Compared to the tracks before it, this one has the effect of sun on an endless stretch of snow and ice—its highest registers can almost make you wince, and I mean that to point up the effectiveness of the sound. Having  been immersed in grim tones and low notes, we get the balance in brightness.

Inuksuk is a deep album, and Hertz and Mystified take full advantage of the meditative aspects of the sound here. The drum-driven pieces open the space for us, and then it’s pared back as we are guided into our darker spaces and allowed to immerse ourselves there. An excellent exploration of a tribal sensibility of a different kind, it also shows us that deep down, we’re all one primal tribe, our rituals connected.

Available at Aural Films.

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